Crisp and chewy bamboo shoots, (sun jian - 笋尖) are freshly erupting edible culms of the bamboo plant. Young, tender shoots are a seasonal delicacy in East Asian regions, particularly in China, Taiwan, Japan and other South-East Asian countries. Several species of bamboo plants employed in the bamboo shoot farming.
The bamboo plant is a member of the grass family. After about 3-4 years of implantation, a new shoot arises from the underneath root system which is then gathered, and eaten as a vegetable. Some of the important edible species widely prevalent are Bambusa bambos, Bambusa tulda, B. polymorpha, B. balcooa, Dendrocalamus hemiltonii, D. gigentius, and Melocanna baccifera.
Bamboo shoots begin to appear above the ground surface in different seasons depending upon the species. When a young, cone-shaped new shoot just appears above the soil surface, it is severed from its root attachment, generally using a spade.
On its exterior, the shoot features several layers of a sturdy casing of leaves, firmly wrapped around its central cream-white heart (meat). This prized meat is what the much sought after portion of the bamboo shoot. It is crunchy in texture and has mild yet distinctive flavor. Once boiled and cured, however, it acquires almost a neutral taste.